Protect Your Kids...

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Spare Part...

Every season, coaches need to make difficult decisions. One is deciding which player starts and which player sits. And sometimes, it's a coin flip that makes the decision.

How can a coach explain this to a kid? A parent?

An analogy I’ve used in this end was shared with me by Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach John Dahlem. It’s simply called “The Spare Part”.

It goes something like this:

I have a car that needs spark plugs. It’s an old car, so sometimes oil fouls the plugs and the engine doesn’t work as good as when the plugs are clean. So when I go to the store, instead of ordering 8 of them (one for each position in the engine), I order 12. And when one fouls, I replace it with one of the other four that are on the shelf. But when I replace one of the plugs, I don’t throw it away. A fouled plug isn’t broken, it just needs to be cleaned and re-gapped (adjusted).

After I take it out, I work with the spark plug to clean it up again so that it’s ready to be “plugged in” the next time it’s needed.

Here's the point: The fact that I am only using the first eight that I take off the shelf doesn’t diminish the value of the four that are still sitting there, does it? And if I take out one of the plugs and replace it with another, that doesn’t mean that the replaced plug isn’t going to be used again, does it?

This week's lesson about Brian Downing provides the perfect opportunity for this discussion. Confident yet unassuming, Downing was known as one of the hardest working players of his era. Downing was the type of player every manager loved having on his team…and every aspiring player should try to emulate. As legend has it, Downing was cut from his high school team, and only had three at-bats in two years of college ball. He was a spare part! The “gift of time” allowed him to hone his skills when no one was looking – and that made all the difference.

Make each day your masterpiece!

Ted Browne

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